In the first of a wide-ranging three-part series looking at the state of rugby in New Zealand, Scotty Stevenson asks where the sport is at, where is it going and how will we get there?
Find the other episodes in the series here.
Like almost every sector in New Zealand, rugby has had its problems thrown into sharp relief by Covid-19. Even before the pandemic stopped the season in its tracks, New Zealand Rugby was facing a raft of issues that needed to be solved sooner rather than later. From the big business side of things to the shrinking number of amateur players running out onto fields across the country every Saturday, most agree the current ecosystem needs a shake-up to remain sustainable.
Here’s where Rugby Unwrapped comes in. The three-part special hosted by the one and only Scotty Stevenson doesn’t serve up all the answers on a plate, but it does offer a rare insight into the types of conversations about the game’s future that have until now only taken place behind closed doors.
In this first episode, Scotty gathers four rugby stakeholders to dissect the way rugby is currently run in New Zealand. All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara you will recognise; New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association CEO Rob Nichol, NZ Rugby’s head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum and player agent Simon Porter of Halo Sport you might not. Together, their broad knowledge of the way in which NZ Rugby operates both as a business and governing body is unparalleled.
Their frank discussion gives us the full picture of the current rugby landscape in New Zealand, and attempts to pinpoint where the weak links lie. How many of modern rugby’s problems could be solved by a return to the good old days, where club rugby games were moved forward so everybody could watch the All Blacks play in the afternoon? Or do we need to look forward in search of new models – and if so, what kind of sacrifices will these require?